Plots to defraud unsuspecting consumers are hatched every day. Some con artists use the telephone and mail to draw in the individual, while others use the broadcast or print media.
Here are some of the most common consumer scams:
* An offer made over the phone that sounds too good to be true. Examples are investments, free trips and other "opportunities" that you have to take advantage of right away. Be suspicious if:
You have never heard of the company.
The offer is so time-sensitive that you have to make a commitment while you're on the phone.
You are asked for your credit card number for identification or told to write a check that will be picked up from your home or should be sent by overnight mail.
* You receive a letter to send your payments to a new company at a new address. For example, a company you've never done business with mails you a letter stating that your mortgage company or student loan servicer has changed.
Your mortgage company or student loan servicer may indeed sell the servicing rights, but the original lender will send you a letter notifying you of the change.
When in doubt, call your current lender before sending your payment to a new address.
* You receive a mail offer that says you can get a credit card at a low interest rate, even though your credit record is in bad shape. No application is required; you just have to send your name and address and a processing fee (generally $50 or more). Here are the facts:
It's unlikely that a reputable company will issue a credit card with no application.
While there are legitimate companies that help people with bad credit records obtain credit cards, fraudulent offers are more common. People responding to such offers have been sent lists of low-interest credit cards, rather than an actual card.
Susan Bondy founded her namesake financial services compan 1980 to provide financial planning and asset management. Write to Susan in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. All letters will be treated confidentially.